October 7, 2010
Everyone wants to be “on the top page of Google”. Most businesses think that if they reach the top of these powerful search engines, they will get new customers and gain an enormous amount of exposure. The truth is the internet can be the most powerful marketing outlet your business has ever known IF you are using the right keywords.
So What Are Keywords?
When a person goes to Google and performs a search, the first thing they do is type what they are looking for and hit the “Search” button. The words typed in the search box is the keyword phrase used for that particular search.
For example, if I am looking for Nike Shoes, I would go to Google.com and type “Nike Shoes Asheville, NC” (without the quotes of course). The words “Nike Shoes Asheville NC” is my keyword phrase.
I could be the only person that types “Nike Shoes Asheville, NC” which would make that keyword phrase practically useless. However, if that particular keyword phrase is typed by 1,100 people per month, then it would be a viable keyword phrase to target for a shoe business.
So in essence, think of keywords as “what people are typing in Google, Yahoo, and Bing” to find information, goods, or services. Good keyword phrases are ones that are used frequently and poor keyword phrases are seldom used for a given search.
How Can You Find “Good Keywords”?
Keywords can be researched using “keyword tools.” There are free tools as well as tools which cost a fee. Google’s keyword tool is one of the most popular. All you do is go to the site, type in the keyword phrases you think are viable, and then hit “search”. Google’s tool will analyze the words you typed and return keyword phrases that have traffic volumes attached using all or part of the keyword phrase you submitted.
I personally don’t trust just one tool, but rather use several tools to cross reference keywords such as Wordtracker. The process of proper keyword research can take hours of time and financial resources to get a good picture of the keywords you should use.
Also, by doing this research on your own, you will prevent SEO firms from selling you a campaign with ineffective keywords (extremely common problem) that seem viable.
The More the Better?
This research leads some businesses to think, the phrases with the most search volumes are the ones they should choose. After all, shouldn’t the keyword phrase with the most volume achieve the most traffic, which in turn, renders the most sales?
The answer is usually a surprising, “No”.
This is because when someone first performs a search, they could start with a generic term like “shoes”. The person would then realize the term produces results that are too ambiguous to be of value. So the same person will perform additional searches, fine-tuning their decision making process until they are at the point of purchase. So the best keyword could look like “Discount Reebok shoes in New York NY”. This makes the phrase “Discount Reebok shoes in New York NY” more valuable than “shoes” even though “shoes”
have exponentially more searches. And remember, your job is be “found” at the point of purchase.
This type of situation is often why SEO firms will use tools such as PPC and Analytics to see what keywords are producing the most viable traffic which results in an actual sale.
Now That You’ve Found the Keywords, What’s Next?
It’s time to hire an SEO firm. My recommendation is to interview SEO firms and don’t let them know you about your research. I would allow them to present their keyword analysis. From that data, you can tell a lot. If their proposal doesn’t show viable keywords, then either they are wanting to use keyword phrases of little value OR you may to perform additional research because you may have missed something.
SEO is such a complicated process, I would not recommend trying to take on this job in-house unless you have specific online marketing professionals. Your IT Department, Graphics Department, and even Website Design Department will need to gain experience and training before being able to tackle the challenge of climbing the ranks of Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
John Carroll, Co-Founder, MaxWebGear.com,/a>